10 Tips For Slowing Down Your Decision Making
I live in Wisconsin.
People here are known for a few things.
And, of course, the Green Bay Packers.
The team has been a stalwart the last several years. They’ve made the playoffs 8 straight seasons. The organization has had incredible continuity.
It seems that one key to their success is slow decision making.
Here’s an example, in 2012, kicker Mason Crosby really struggled. He was one of the worst kickers in the league. He was worst in the league that year and it carried over into 2013 when he missed just about every kick in a televised practice.
Many wanted swift action when Mason was struggling. Few would have blamed the team for moving on quickly. A fast decision probably would have led to that decision.
But the Packers seem to move slow. They let things play out a bit longer than most. And it usually works out.
Fast decisions can be great. They’re often right. But not every situation calls for quick decisions.
So we’re talking about slowing down thinking. Here are some ways to do that.
1. Limit The Options
It turns out that the more options we have the more rushed we feel. That often leads to regret when making decisions.
For example, you’re sitting down to watch a movie on Netflix.
So. Many. Choices.
It can take awhile to make a good choice. But you can become frustrated. And so can the person you’re watching with.
Limit the options to make a better decision. Cut it down to categories. Comedy, Drama, Documentary. Decide on one. Then start analyzing the remaining decisions.
When you have options you feel rushed and you’ll probably decide too fast. Limiting the options allows you to slow down your thinking.
2. Schedule Your Decision Making
Busy individuals often make poor, selfish decisions.
Have you ever felt rushed to make decisions when you’re feeling really busy? Maybe you’ve had a long day of meetings and you get back to your desk for a quick 10 minute mental break only to find a team member there needing a decision?
That decision probably won’t be a good one. It could be, but that’s no situation to be in for making decisions.
One solution is to schedule decision making. Actually taking time in your schedule to consider important decisions. Even scheduling multiple times to consider decisions so you’re not procrastinating.
Another way to go about the situation in the previous point is to prioritize your days. Saying “no” to certain things so you’re not as busy.
Many leaders are incredibly busy. This business often leads to poor decision making.
This allows them to slow their decision making.
4. 24-Hour Rule
A lot of people use this rule. The most recent one I’ve seen was Kid Rock of all people. He said that he often allows himself a full day to mull decisions. Especially important decisions.
He also uses the rule for letting emotion leave. Say something happens, maybe even self induced, and he gets some bad press. Before jumping to conclusions and making more bad decisions he’ll put things on hold for a day and see how it looks then.
Usually things have calmed down and he can get back to making rational decisions.
5. Remove Technology
Technology keeps our minds busy. I love technology. I love my phone. I love my laptop. All of it seems to make life better.
But I find that when I’m using technology, even the TV, that my mind doesn’t have time to process information. If my face is buried in my screen I can’t take a moment to think.
And important decisions need consideration. They need a clear mind.
I like hunting. And in the fall I’ll spend hours in the tree stand just sitting there. Thinking. I feel I make some great decisions and have some great ideas during those silent hours in the stand.
6. Engage In A Mindless (Tech Free) Activity
It’s an old cliché, but it’s true. Some of the best ideas come while we’re in the shower.
Mindless activities free up your mind. You’re doing something you’ve done a million times so your conscious brain can shut off. You’re just coasting through it.
Driving to work.
Mowing the lawn.
Mindless activities can lead to slower, better decision making.
If you need to make an important decision schedule some time to do something that is mindless. This will give you an excuse to get away and it will give you time to consider the decision and come to the best choice.
7. Think Like A Kid
Have you ever seen how excited kids get at seemingly simple things?
They see a goat at the county fair and they can’t believe what they’re seeing. The adults seeing the goat don’t really care at all. But those kids are amazed.
Sometimes in business we get so used to the world we work in. Nothing really phases us anymore.
Sometimes it pays to think like a kid. To see things for the first time.
When presented with a decision, pretend like this is the first time this situation has happened. That will chock you into a state of mind where you’re seeing all the details. You’re taking everything in.
8. Slow Down Every Activity
I think it was Ben Hogan that believed that golfers in contention tended to do everything too fast. That’s why it’s difficult for leaders to close out the final round and win the tournament.
Hogan (and Jack and Tiger after him) would purposely think slow, move slow and do everything slower when they were leading.
On the outside it may not have seemed like they were slowing down, but they knew that they had to do it so they weren’t racing through the process.
When faced with important decisions do everything slow. Sip your coffee slow. Drive to work slow. Walk to your office slow. Talk slower.
9. Ask: “What have others done?”
In this situation. We’re rarely the first at anything.
I try to remember that when I have ideas or when I’m faced with a decision.
Let’s say you’re faced with an important business decision.
Maybe expand into a new product or service.
Maybe to fire someone.
It could be a million things.
Odds are almost 100% that business leaders have had to make this decision in the past.
Before making yours, check the old Google or read a business autobiography and see if you can glean some insight from those that came before.
10. Embrace A Hobby
Finally, embrace a hobby.
Rod Stewart, of all people, said in his book that his dad told him that everyone should have a vocation, a sport and a hobby.
A good reason to have a hobby is that it creates a comfortable space for you. It also allows you to take the time you need to make decisions.
Go to the gym. Play a round of golf. Go for a drive. Grab a beer for happy hour.
The hobby is simply a distraction that allows your brain some time to consider everything relating to the important decision.
I think most of us would agree that we need to slow down. We look at those that are pretty laid back and we think how wonderful that must be.
Well, the truth is that you can be that way too. And it won’t affect your business negatively. In fact, it could lead to better decisions.
So take the tips above and see if they help bring slower and better decisions to your life.